Pulling Together to Remodel Hospital Food

The second Rational Future of Hospital Kitchens seminar, hosted by The Chefs’ Forum on Wednesday 20th October, attracted close to 100 hospital chefs and other stakeholders and brought several new key points to help shape the future of the hospital kitchen.

The assembled panel stretched across the whole of the hospital sector and included Philip Shelley (chair of the NHS Hospital Food Review), Naomi Campbell RGN (Hydration Care Nurse Consultant), Tim Radcliffe (Facilities Manager at East Lancashire Hospital), Mike Ridder (Dragon Consultancy), Nick Vadis (Culinary Director at Compass Group) and Colin Parry (Rational UK).

Philip Shelley said: “We’ve taken some steps to address hospital food but we can’t stop. We must keep going.”

The consensus from the seminar was that there was much still to be done and that different trusts and hospital sites had differing problems that needed to be addressed. One of these was the subject of ‘Food to Go’.

Tim Radcliffe of East Lancashire Hospital, said: “The offer needs to reflect the high street. We need to innovate, invest and change the way we do things. There are so many vacancies and staff shortages as it is.”

On the subject of hydration Naomi Campbell said: “We are reaching a critical point. Hydration is time critical. Patients on the wards need to make sure they have water or hot drinks within reach. This doesn’t always happen.”

Mike Ridder talked about the need to maximise ‘Connected Cooking’. He said: “We need to use the existing technology to save energy. One of the ways of doing this is through high pressure steaming of vegetables. However, we need to look at the costs between replacing old equipment with new, versus maintaining existing equipment.” Mike continued to discuss the importance of sustainable practices and the significance of planning in conjunction with other operations, rather than in isolated activities.

To celebrate the excellent work that has been taking place across the country, Nick Vadis provided an overview of the CPD workshop opportunities he and his team have delivered in hospitals up and down the country. He also mentioned the cookery resources developed, including a series of publications covering topics such as ‘Plant-Based Cuisine’ and ‘Great British Dishes’.

The event concluded with a round of positive messages from the panellists and the challenges to take forward to ensure that the initiative is carried forward with increasing momentum over the next six months.

Neil Rippington, Director of Education at The Chefs’ Forum and host of the event said: “What a positive event we enjoyed today! It was fantastic to witness experts from a variety of fields coming together to share their experiences and ideas to resolve a shared problem. Everyone involved is passionate to reach the objective of providing of a world-class food and drink service throughout the NHS.”

Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum, closed the event, thanking everyone for their attendance and contributions. Catherine said: “This was the second event covering the delivery of the NHS Food Review. Philip and the panellists are making terrific progress towards the achievement of the review but there is still much work to be done. We look forward to hosting the next review in six months’ time and welcoming everyone back to analyse the progress made during this period.”